Monday 12 October 2020

UPU commemorates postal workers who put their lives on the line during Covid-19 pandemic

Postal workers around the world have played an essential role in keeping the world moving during Covid-19.
Postal staff put their lives on the line as they continued to provide delivery services to local communities and keep them connected to the outside world.

  “In many countries postal workers were designated as essential, alongside health workers, sanitary workers, police and many others professions and roles,” says UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein. “Even during the most difficult times, postal workers continued to deliver mail. Continued to play their part.”
Now, on World Post Day (October 9), the Universal Postal Union has unveiled a special plaque dedicated to the workers who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. “All of us appreciate the vital role played by posts in all our societies – delivering medicines, protective equipment, food and many other vital items and products,” adds Hussein. “Delivering the goods we all wanted and needed. But a high price has been paid. Postal workers have died around the world due to Covid-19.
“Today is the day – World Post Day – when we should commemorate their bravery and courageousness, and in doing so, recognize them for what they are: heroes. I offer my sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones. I am proud on behalf of the Universal Postal Union to dedicate a plaque to postal workers, which will be set on the wall of the Heinrich von Stephen Hall.”
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic posts quickly equipped their workforce with the necessary equipment and tools to perform their jobs safely and efficiently. The postal sector workforce, however, went well beyond their call of duty, according to Pierre De Lit, director of mail and parcel operations at bpost Group.
“Our dedicated staff have been daily heroes for society, week after week,” he says. “Bpost’s employees continued to work day and night. They remained present in post offices, sorting centers and in the street to distribute mail and the very large numbers of parcels, which increased dramatically during Covid-19. Thanks to its personnel, bpost has been able to continue to fulfil its essential societal role while supporting the Belgian economy.”
The hard work of bpost’s postal workers did not go unnoticed by local citizens, according to De Lit. “bpost Group employees received many expressions of support from the population,” he says. “Citizens put drawings and little messages of encouragement on their windows or the mailboxes. Our social networks were positively invaded by thank you messages, which warmed the hearts of the employees. Bpost Group also had the honor of welcoming the King of Belgium, who met the employees of a distribution center to congratulate and encourage them. All these expressions of support prove that postal workers are still highly valued and that their daily role is still recognized by all.”
It wasn’t just in Belgium that postal workers went above and beyond. “There has been a huge energy and dedication from our staff to serve our communities in the best way possible,” says François Copigneaux, chief engineering and IT officer, La Poste Groupe, France. “They have been incredible during these tough times and have delivered value for both the post and its customers. Many customers have put little post-it notes on their letter boxes, for example, saying “Thank you”. These are small gestures but really go a long way to showing how our customers value the fact that our employees are willing to go out and take risks to deliver much needed services.”
Other posts showed their appreciation for their employees by investing in the workforce. In Ukraine, for example, Ukrposhta introduced a 15 percent salary increment for all front-line workers at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Oleksandr Pertsovskyi, chief operating officer, Ukrposhta, says, “Investing in our employees during this time has been extremely important to us both in terms of showing our workforce how much we value them and to boost morale. We also arranged dedicated transport services to bring personnel to work and avoid overcrowding on buses. It is essential that our staff are safe, happy and can continue to support our communities.”
Aside from providing essential front-line delivery services during the Covid-19 pandemic, posts also launched new services to better support their communities and its businesses. In Australia, for example, Australia Post entered into a partnership with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to ensure that its most vulnerable people were able to access prescription medication through a free pharmacy home delivery service.
Meanwhile in Croatia, Hrvatska Pošta (Croatian Post) distributed Red Cross and Croatian Caritas humanitarian packages with food and supplies to those in need, free of charge. Postal workers also delivered pensions and social welfare to beneficiaries and for Croatian Postal Bank’s clients the service was free of charge. In partnership with Croatian start-up 3dTech the post also donated the delivery of 3D printed visors to hospitals.
In France, La Poste Groupe offered its ‘Ma Ville Mon Shopping’ online sales platform free of charge, in order to allow storekeepers and artisans to continue their businesses remotely. “With the Ministry of National Education, La Poste also mobilized to maintain pedagogical continuity with the distribution of computer equipment and the sending of homework by post to students in a situation of digital disconnection by allowing teachers to correct them online,” explains Copigneaux. “500,000 students disconnected from the school system were able to benefit from it.”
Reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic so far, Hussein concludes, “Covid-19 has tested us all. Tested us as family members, as workers, as human beings. Since March of this year, we have all lived under its shadow, as we have tried to continue with our work and lives.
“At the Universal Postal Union we did not allow the pandemic to stop us from carrying out our essential mandate of supporting the international postal network. We may have been apart, we may have been working from home, but we have continued to offer our support and assistance to posts. Our work has never stopped. And we have seen how quickly the industry adjusted to meet the changing needs of consumers; many of whom were locked down, and locked out of shops and markets.
“For all those postal workers who lost their lives while performing essential services in their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will never forget your bravery and courageousness.”

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